Plus Dane Housing has appointed Q-Bot through the PfH Social Housing Emerging Disruptors (SHED) framework to upgrade its housing stock, and install a robotic underfloor insulation over the next two years in the North of England.
The large retrofit programme of work aims to improve the energy efficiency of at least 200 properties to achieve EPC C by 2030 while reducing carbon emissions of homes to progress towards to net zero. To start the project, Plus Dane identified around 50 of their properties in Congleton and Cheshire, mostly semi-detached dating back to pre-1929 with suspended timber floors making them ideal for Q-Bot to insulate. These properties generally have poor insulation and are among the hardest to treat. Overall, all properties will now benefit for a further individual measure that will have significant improvement with minimal disruption to tenants. Using cutting-edge technology was important for Plus Dane, looking to install an effective and quick retrofit measure while maximising their internal funding.
Plus Dane Housing is a housing association with a strong social value, that owns and manages more than 13,500 homes across Merseyside and Cheshire. They are an ambitious organisation striving to provide the very best possible services to over 30,000 customers who live in their homes.
Bridget Guilfoyle, director of assets at Plus Dane said: “We are very excited to be the first housing association to use PfH’s new framework to access new technologies such as Q-Bot. For us as an organisation, for our customers, and for our corporate responsibility to work towards carbon neutrality, it is vital for us to find cost-effective solutions that make our properties as efficient as they can be. We look forward to seeing the difference that Q-Bot makes and gathering feedback from our customers.”
This is the first contract ever to be procured via the PfH Social Housing Emerging Disruptors (SHED) framework, which was created to help housing associations and local authorities buy innovative products and services via a dedicated procurement platform. The SHED framework is all about adopting ingenuity in the supply chain to achieve better outcomes for social housing tenants. Challenges posed by the pandemic, materials and skills shortages and a surge in demand around net zero and fire safety works have created an unparalleled environment for housing providers. This is forcing them to search for fresh and innovative solutions so they can deliver competing strategic objectives.
Procurement for Housing (PfH) worked with the Proptech Innovation Network – who are at the forefront of innovation identification and promotion – to find suppliers like Q-Bot, at the cutting edge of housing technology solution and service design, to join the framework.
Neil Butters, Head of Procurement at PfH commented: “From the very first, our intent has been to create a safe space in the SHED for Innovators and adopters alike, to come together and make change. I’m so pleased to see that it is working already, enabling Plus Dane and Q-Bot to work together to have a meaningful impact. This is the perfect example of disruptive technology expediting the path to Net Zero whilst reducing fuel poverty and minimising disruption to Tenant’s lives”.
Q-Bot’s method of installing underfloor insulation is an innovative, minimally disruptive approach. More than 10 million homes in the UK have suspended timber flooring and very few have been insulated due to the disruption and cost of doing so. Controlled remotely, the robot is inserted in the underfloor void, sprays insulation to the underside of suspended floors, and then verifies that the work has been done correctly. The insulation immediately reduces the heat loss through the floor and stops draughts, ensuring a more efficient home. Q-Bot’s robotic solution delivers an EPC improvement of 2-6 points and saves on average £150/yr on heating bills at 2020’s energy price (EST, 2020).
The first install will be completed within the next few days by Q-Bot and its new Accredited Install Partner Mersey Eco Grant, who will also support the delivery of the contract. Plus Dane Housing will likely find extra funding , such as the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund, to increase the number of properties who can benefit from such unique service, working towards eradicating fuel poverty and tackling climate change.